Govt Extends Relief on Lentil Import Duties for Another Year
Govt Extends Relief on Lentil Import Duties for Another Year

New Delhi: In efforts to combat surging food prices, the Indian government has prolonged the exemption on the import duty for masur dal, a type of lentil, from the agriculture and infrastructure development cess for an additional year. This decision, announced by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), extends the previous exemption, which began in October 2021, until March 31, 2025.

The latest order also maintains the reduced rates for the cess on crude soyabean oil, crude palm oil, and crude sunflower seed oil until March 31, 2024. Imported crude soyabean oil and crude sunflower seed oil will continue to incur a concessional 5% cess, while crude palm oil will remain at a concessional 7.5% cess. The government has eased the basic customs duty on these specific commodities.

November witnessed a notable increase in India's food inflation, escalating to 8.7% from October's 6.61%. Pulses specifically saw a surge in inflation rates, reaching 20% in November, according to data sourced from the statistics ministry.

Addressing the mounting concerns over high food inflation, particularly in light of the upcoming elections, the government has extended the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, a program offering free grain distribution to impoverished households, until 2028. This initiative provides 5 kilograms of grains monthly to eligible households.

Moreover, administrative measures have been implemented to stabilize prices of essential items such as sugar, rice, pulses, vegetables, and edible oils. Industry associations have been urged to ensure competitive pricing for non-basmati rice and to crack down on any instances of profiteering.

The pressure on food prices is anticipated to persist due to the erratic monsoon experienced this year, which has adversely affected the growth of the agricultural sector. The agriculture and allied activities recorded a mere 1.2% growth in the September quarter, marking a decline from the 2.5% growth observed during the same period last year.

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